Three Ways I Rightsized in Semi-Retirement

rightsizing for retirementI love this life assessment piece by my friend Terri Webster Schrandt. Are you nearing retirement? Terri shares some great thoughts about how she prepared for and manages her retired life.

Three Ways I Rightsized in Semi-Retirement

rightsizing for retirement

We read a lot about downsizing these days as Baby Boomers are actively pursuing new ways of life as they consider retirement. “Rightsizing” is a process that implies a less than a cutthroat approach to restructuring than downsizing.

I have been following Kathy’s blog SMARTLiving365.com and recently had the opportunity to write this guest post while she was enjoying some travel. Kathy and I met in person at the BAM 2016 conference in Las Vegas. We found each other to be kindred spirits as well as neighbors living in California!

After reading Kathy’s book Rightsizing: A SMART Living 365 Guide To Reinventing Retirement, I also identified the ways I have rightsized my life. A big key for my semi-retirement was being able to retire from my day job of 32 years at the relatively young age of 55. After paying into the CalPERS (public employees retirement system) for years, I now receive 65% of my income as a pension.

Three other reasons factored into my semi-retirement decision:

1. Dissatisfaction at work. The economic downturn of 2008-2012, which acutely affected California, caused many folks to retire “early” (read: younger than if they had waited until the traditional retirement age of 62-65) from the public parks and recreation organization for which I worked. As a result, too many new people started making swift (and poor) decisions that affected best practices which became too much to bear. When I was passed over for promotion for the third time over a 10-year period, I knew it was time to go.

2. Being able to teach part-time. The ability to retire hinged upon the continuation of my teaching job at a university, where I am a part-time lecturer enjoying sharing my 35+ years of experience in the field with parks and rec majors. As a lecturer (and now “Retired Annuitant” I am able to teach 15 units per year). The money is GOOD and nicely supplements my pension.

3. My husband got hired with my former organization in facility maintenance. He now carries the health benefits, and he has the potential for moving up in the organization while still experiencing job satisfaction.

All those added up to my semi-retirement.

Best. Decision. Ever

These are the three areas where I rightsized my life: Read the original post to find out what they are.

Source: Three Ways I Rightsized in Semi-Retirement

5 Things You Need to Know About Freezing Peaches

I Know Why My Day Job Was NOT Domestic Engineer!

80 pt headline

Cool headline analyzer tool which gives you a score on each headline so you can rewrite it until you get above 70. It’s like a game to me, so I love it.

I think I would die if I had to raise and process my food. The entire time I was blanching and peeling my unwilling peaches, I thought about the red hen and her admonition of “no work, no eat.” I may never eat another peach again.

They look inviting and very innocent right after they are picked.
They look inviting and very innocent right after they are picked.

The process of freezing peaches did not look hard in the video and in the step-by-step pictures. EASY PEACHY! You watch it. Tell me if that doesn’t look easy to you. It lies.

Step 1 Blanch the peaches. First of all our new stove came last Thursday – banged up. My husband called and instead of sending a new front, they are replacing the entire unit. Result – no stove for a week or so. Blanching became much more difficult in the microwave. The bowl got hotter than the water. You can not peel peaches that have not been heated to a boiling temperature for 30 seconds. Two hundred degrees won’t cut it!

The dent
The dent…you can see that the stove is not pushed back, so not back = not hooked up. SO SAD!

Step 2 Cool the peaches. That was easy. They were not very hot! They loved their ice bath, though.

Step 3 Peel the peaches – Enough said already. Did I tell you that some of them were very ripe? They squirted me in the eye when I poked their tough skins. As I peeled them, they dissolved into mush.

Step 4 Cut the peaches and take out the pit then slice the peaches. First of all, most of the peaches we planted do not have the label “Cling Free” on them. That means that the fruit and the seed are like one. You can’t have one without the other. As I pulled the halves apart, ⅔ of the center came out with the pit. The other half of the peach kept the pit. I had to cut it off. By the time I finished cutting, the peach fruit equaled about ⅓ of its original volume.

My neat little slices - no water added
My neat little slices – no water added

Step 5 Lay them on a sheet being careful that the pieces don’t touch each other. … RIGHT! The peach slices lay in a bloody mess in the bottom of a bowl. I could not separate one slice from another if my life depended on it. Fortunately, we have grocery stores.

I tasted one of the peach slices, from a peach that did actually slice well, as I poured the gooey mess into a plastic freezer bag. It bit me. Literally, it was so bitter, it went into the garbage disposal of its own accord! I hope it was an oddball. I tasted several of the smooshy peaches, and they tasted very good. I sprinkled some fake sugar on them and shoved the bag into the freezer. It will make one cobbler. I’m tired. I quit after peeling about 10 peaches.

Central CA agriculture fences101

I have more peaches. All of them are tiny. Some of them are Siamese twins where there is a dominant twin twice the size of the other. Some of them are ripe. Many of them crinkled up like the skin on my arms is doing. Some of them turned brown in spots like the skin on my arms is doing. One of them molded – no I don’t have moldy arms. Get that ugly picture out of your mind. The rest of them are too green to slice yet – a little like the bitter peach.

I'm so done with freezing peaches.
I’m so done with freezing peaches.

So I ask you, how do farmers make any money? How do canning companies continue to exist? Trust me, if they did not, you, too, might die of starvation or learn a better way to raise and freeze peaches than I did.

Do you have a domestic engineering gone sour story you’d like to share? It would make me feel better if you’d share it. You can post a link to your blog in my comment section, or just let it spill right there in the box.

If you have a friend that needs cheering up by hearing my sad tale, feel free to share it. I’m not proud! 🙂

My Plate Is Full: My Heart Sings

My friend Linda and her daughter
My friend, Kiwanis President,  Linda LaFleur and her daughter enjoy the new Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum

Two things I enjoy more than anything in the world, maybe three. Being with old friends and/or making new friends, and learning new skills. These past few weeks have been full of both. It started with opening our new museum in Woodlake and having two grand openings that drew hundreds of people together to have fun and celebrate Woodlake’s history. Even the opening days where only two or three at a time came to the museum, there’s something exciting about a new project that gets me going, and keeps me busy and excited.

Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.
Spirit of Woodlake Award Winner, Tony Casares and Miss Woodlake, Sonni Hacobian.

A week ago Friday night we had a big celebration of award giving in Woodlake, and as a Chamber Secretary, I got to be part of that program, and meet tons of new people. The next morning I drove with a new friend to Costa Mesa to speak at the California Council for the Social Studies Awards Ceremony. I’ve worked the last six years or so with that organization, and it was good to see so many friends.

National History Day, Tulare County took place on Tuesday, and again I saw many old friends, including my former boss, Superintendent Jim Vidak, and the newest history consultant who took my place, and met some very talented students from our county.

Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education
Dr. Michelle Herczog, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Friday I drove to Fresno to attend a Civic Education Conference for pre-teachers at Fresno State to hear my friend Michelle Herczog, the keynote speaker. After the opening address, she helped facilitate a breakout session, and many people I have known well throughout the region attended.

Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education
Three generations of History Consultants for Tulare County Office of Education

Three of us, all who have been history consultants for Tulare County attended and had our picture taken together.  Joy Soares has been a dear friend for nearly 15 years, when she started coaching History Day, and I began working as the County Coordinator. Then she moved into my position. Now my new friend Gay Atmajian holds down the fort.

Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.
Jim Lloyd had many good words to say about Marvin, and some barbs about taking over a very packed office after Marvin retired.

Today was a gathering of a different kind. I helped a friend who organized a celebration for our friend Marvin Awbrey who passed away February 2. He would have loved it, and I actually did love meeting so many of his friends old and new and hearing wonderful stories about Marvin.

In the process of taking part in all these celebrations, I’ve had a part to play and learned some new skills. Today I learned how to turn a Powerpoint presentation into a movie – which isn’t difficult unless you have added music, which I did. Even then it is not difficult, but I had to head to Google to see what steps I left out because I the first time I tried it there wasn’t any music. I finally figured it out this afternoon, and posted it on YouTube.

Just as I finished  publishing the video, in walks Taliah, my almost nine year old neighbor. She watched my video, then together we and made a quick video out of some pictures I had taken of her about five years ago. She chose the pictures and the captions, and I negotiated the software. Her mother loved it even though I covered up some of the captions on the first attempt. This is my second attempt.

I know most of this might not be exciting to everyone, but I feel so blessed that I’m about to explode. Between enjoying the excitement of all these events, emailing and chatting with special friends online whom I love to bits and pieces, creating flyers, postcards, presentations and movies to use for these events, I feel so fortunate. My plate is full.

Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.
Special homemade treat at the Grand Opening.

How has your life been recently?

Why NaNoWriMo – Deadline Or No Deadline?

I don’t know about other writers like you, but I find NaNoWriMo grueling.  I’ve had a birthday, and today is V’s birthday and his son has come to visit.

 

Other minor interruptions-Thanksgiving, a cold, pink eye, a five-day 5,000 mile trip to DE, and  a trip to AZ planned starting the 30th have ground me into pulp trying to finish writing 50,000 cogent words by Nov. 30th. My breakout novel is destined to be pulp fiction reflecting the state of my brain.

pulp-fiction-poster

 

I wanted to keep up with a commentary on my blog with how things were going and what I was learning as I wrote. But guess what? I can’t sit that long. I’ve run out of procrastination hours. I need to write 5,000 words a day to meet my deadline. I can barely snap my fingers on my mouse hand. I’ve gained another three pounds on top of the ten I already had going into the month. My normal sleeping pattern, which is asymmetrical at best, disintegrated in the wake of the NaNoWriMo deadline.

All deadlines fossilize me. The whisper directly into my endocrine system. “You have to get up to go to Kiwanis, Marsha.”

Result  – I blog all night and oversleep on Tuesday morning.

learning, writing, blogging, reading, pets, dog

“You must go to the store today.”

Result – I dither around the house trying to plan my itinerary, deciding which stops to make when I go into Visalia until it’s time for dinner. Then I call Vince to bring home some take-out from Subway.

In the case of NaNoWriMo my back, shoulders and butt tell me to walk away from the computer, take a long, hot bath – or until I have a hot flash –  and head to bed by 8:00 pm This forces Puppy to move off my pillow to the center of the bed. At 10:00 pm my sore body parts scream at Vince to give me a massage. Puppy gives me a respite if he puts enough smelly stuff on me. As soon as he finishes,  she crowds all ten pound between us and pushes with all her might against my back forcing both of us to sleep on the edge of the king-size bed. Then my brain, or Puppy Girl’s pressure against my kidneys, wakes me up at 1:30 am and threatens to kill itself if I don’t go back into the office and sit down at the computer and start writing again.

kalev7

Vince asked my why I had to do this. After all, I’m retired and still young. (though I’m not feeling it today – pink eye in both eyes) I have a whole lifetime to finish, right? Right? Of course he’s right, he usually is – annoyingly so, but then so am I, so why do NaNoWriMo?

Deadlines motivate me. When I wrote Images of America Woodlake, I started from scratch collecting pictures and information about Woodlake. I worked eight or more hours a day to finish by the six month deadline. About half-way through the writing process the publisher wrote me an email, “You’re doing a great job. We’ll give you an extra five books free if you finish in five months.” I ramped up production to get those five extra books – about a hundred-dollar value – so I had more to give away before I had to buy any to give away to all my contributors.

My amateur diagnosis – there is definitely something wrong with my brain. I guess it’s the reporter-brain training I had as a kid that is just now kicking in.

brainfreeze

Motivations like due dates didn’t work on me when I was a kid taking journalism and working on the school paper. Nothing motivated me to finish something that other people besides a teacher would read.  Going public with my thoughts, narrow as they were, petrified me. I feigned illness if the deadline came, and I wasn’t ready – an unpleasant characteristic flaw of mine. No worries If you’ve known me for more than a couple of minutes, then you already knew there were holes in my perfect persona.

After I missed my first real assignment on the high school paper, covering the first football game of the school year by moving to another state 2,400 miles away, I made sure I stuck to more important beats. In my new school I covered the library. I thought nothing exciting happened in the library because I only talked to the librarian, stupid kid. How dumb was that? I just needed to look between the shelves, but that’s another story. The interview and fear exposing myself during the publication process terrified me for six years, and deadlines did not motivate me to do more than get sick.

 

Deadlines and contact with real humans who need me to accomplish something by a specific date still make me sick, but without them my life would be chaos. Dishes would pile up, beds would be unmade. No one would have clean laundry. I might leave the house, and might not. I would spend the day in bed reading one good book after another until my eyes withered into the back of my head. I would eat until I ran out of ice cream, potato chips and protein bars. Oh wait, I’ve just painted a picture of my life now when I do have a deadline.

chaos

The best thing about having a deadline is that it puts an end to something you are driven to do. They validate saying, “It will never be perfect, Marsha. You can stop now. You made it. You got the sticker for your blog. Now go clean your house and fix a nutritious dinner.”

And I do.

What works for you? Deadlines? No Deadlines? Tell me YOUR stories. 🙂

Thanksgiving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, FRIENDS!

“What Did You Do Today?”

Don’t you hate it when your mate comes home from a hard day at work, or your boss comes up to you and says those words?  Moms do this to their kids all the time.

When it happens to me, my mind immediately goes blank.  I am programmed to answer something, so I do a quick mental scan.  I made the bed, I think.  Maybe my husband did it while I was typing on the computer.  I posted two articles, one for Manny and one for me. That’s fun stuff, so it doesn’t count.  I shouldn’t even mention it.

SFW K & S working

Kalev and I walked two miles.  That’s impressive.  I made lunch.  It was good, but hardly noteworthy when expounding on what I “did.”   Here’s the most time-consuming, “I answered emails.”  Again that activity falls into the ho-hum category.  Let’s see, I edited an article or two for “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”  That might be impressive if it hadn’t taken me two hours to tweeze out 75 words with the help of a Style Writing program that keeps shutting down.  I posted the assignment for my writing class online.  My last assignment didn’t get award-winning stars and A+ remarks from the teacher, so that took a while, too.

making lunch

So when my husband came home and asked me that intimidating question, I knew he would not be overly impressed with my morning’s work.  But now you know, I worked really hard yesterday morning, and accomplished quite a bit.  It just didn’t look impressive.

What did you do today?  (hehe)  🙂